Shiva Rea’s soon to be released DVD A.M. Energy offers three new twenty minute practices for the yogi to create a customizable “yoga matrix.” Also included on this DVD is a five minute meditation core awakening, a six minute Shavasana and a bonus inclusion of the 20 minute Heart Salutation for her Radiant Heart DVD.
The first of the three practices, Body Mandala 108, is a 20 minute core strengthening and toning practice. This flow is very abdominal and upper body strength focused and is definitely not for a beginner. Shiva Rea demonstrates a few modifications, but her practice is a challenging one. She uses a wonderful blend of both Sanskrit and English asana terms, feeling and anatomical cues. The other new practices, both 20 minutes as well, are Shakti Flow and Vira Flow. Shakti Flow involves more fluid movement between the “traditional” asanas. Rea encourages the viewer to move as their body feels rather than giving specific directions. Her demonstrations are vividly flowing and watching her open at the hips and upper body through her Shakti dance is inspirational. She gives suggestions on how to move your body but also allows lots of space for the viewer to go where their body most wants to go. This practice is very permissive and allows for a lot of self expression. Vira Flow is a structured Vinyasa flow section that incorporates many traditional asanas and instructional language. Viewers will find many well known asanas which are approached in a fresh way, but that are grounded in traditional alignment and energetically charged cues. The combination of Vira Flow and Shakti Flow give the viewer a good overview of Shiva Rea’s approach to yoga: one that is grounded in traditional Vinyasa but at its heart is eclectic and spiritually charged. Body Mandala 108 is a wonderful compliment to either of the other two practices, and a blend of all three would offer most yogis a very well rounded, hour long practice.
None of these practices with the possible exception of Vira Flow are really suitable for total beginners as Shiva Rea’s sequences are somewhat challenging. She also does not give extensive modifications for those who might have needs for props or other aids in their practice, nor do her cues always explain how one sets themselves up in the poses. Her recommendations for modifying are often in some more intermediate poses and still might provide too difficult for a novice. The DVD is much better suited to intermediate students of yoga. Having said that, her verbal cues and beautiful descriptions of the benefits of each movement are inspiring. She interweaves more traditional phrasing and cues with heart-felt and life affirming suggestions about how to bring light into your day. Shiva smiles throughout the entirety of this DVD and moves with such enthusiasm and grace that it is hard not to imagine starting your morning with more energy after watching it.